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Cherchez La Femme

Une Dame vraiment bien (A Truly Fine Lady)

Roméo Bosetti, Gaumont, France, 1908

Gaumont was particularly adept at embellishing linked-episode and other comedies with mild social commentary. In Une Dame vraiment bien, Bosetti, who would eventually become the star and director of several comedy series, links a sequence of vignettes of French social life through the character of an attractive, fashionably dressed woman (Renée Carl) as she strolls unescorted through city streets. Her passage causes disruption in male activities all along her route: a cyclist careens into a sidewalk cafe (1), a gardener drenches a man on a park bench (echoes of Arroseur arrosé—see Chapter 2.2) (2), and a line of soldiers stumbles into a heap of flailing limbs (3). The irruption of desire, it seems, is all it takes to “castrate” the guardians of the patriarchy. Ultimately, male-dominated order is restored when two policemen throw a cloak over the woman’s shoulders and escort her home (4).

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